Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Argumentative Writing in Fifth Grade

This month, many fifth grade classrooms are doing argumentative writing in their workshops. This is a step up from the persuasive work they have done in past years. The new Common Core State Standards have brought more rigor to the writing. Students need to be able to not only have an opinion from their reading and research, but also to be able to craft those opinions into argumentative essays. They need to be able to use thoughtful researched evidence.

Mindy Hoffar and Ruth Ayres talk to Karen Caine
Last year in April, the All Write!!! consortium brought Karen Caine, the author of Writing to Persuade to the area. We were able to listen to her thinking on this subject. In April, I blogged about that. Now that I am looking at this unit of study for fifth graders, I am reminded of her book. 
The book which is published by Heinemann and has a forward written by Janet Angelillo, is full of minilessons written for grades 3-8.  This is the best book on persuasive writing for that age group that I have seen.  It has a chapter for immersing students in this genre including how to read, jot, talk and write while reading persuasive text. There is a chapter on collecting ideas and developing those ideas. One of the final chapters is on minilessons for persuasive writing on standardized writing tests and analyzing the writing prompt!

One of my favorite things about the book, though, is the appendix. Not only are there additional resources, there are also many sample writing pieces to use as mentor texts. As Karen wrote in my book... "Thank you for giving teachers and students a voice in the world." That is what we want for our students, a way to have a voice in the world!

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